Lawmakers in New York are considering a bill that, if passed, would decriminalize prostitution across the entire state.
The Stop Violence In the Sex Trades Act, introduced to the New York state legislature Monday, would “decriminalize & decarcerate the sex trades in NY” as well as be “the first statewide bill [decriminalizing prostitution] in the nation,” tweeted DecrimNY, one of the advocacy groups behind the bill.
“The bill upholds laws concerning trafficking, rape (including statutory rape), assault, battery, and sexual harassment. The bill amends statutes so that consenting adults who trade sex, collaborate w/ or support sex working peers, or patronize adult [sex workers] are not criminalized,” DecrimNY added.
The bill is co-sponsored by state Senator Julia Salazar — who campaigned on decriminalizing sex work — and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and has already secured the support of fellow state senators and assembly members. As the New Republic noted, in New York City alone in 2018, 1,500 people were arrested on prostitution-related charges.
“This actually speaks to exactly how pervasive the criminalization of the sex industry is that it touches so many parts of the law the average person doesn’t think about when they think about prostitution being illegal,” Salazar said.
“This is not just about decriminalizing workers or the absence of criminal codes. It’s about making sure people who work in the sex trades have access to making a living in the sex industry in a way that is not a crime,” DecrimNY’s Audacia Raytold the New Republic.
According to the 27-page Stop Violence In the Sex Trades Act, the goal of the bill is to “amend the penal law, in relation to decriminalizing sex work; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating to prostitution; to amend the criminal procedure law, the civil practice law and rules, the social services law, and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to eliminating prior criminal records and making other related changes; and to repeal certain provisions of the criminal procedure law relating to the prosecution of prostitution offenses.” It would not establish a legal system under which brothels or sex work would be regulated.
If the bill passes the State Senate, New York would become the first U.S. state to decriminalize sex work statewide; in Nevada, only some counties allow for legal prostitution.